MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Brian Dozier doesn’t like talking about his power-hitting abilities. When told his manager referred to him as Minnesota’s “igniter” over the past couple of games — during which he homered on consecutive nights — the Twins second baseman looked embarrassed.
“The igniter? Oh goodness,” Dozier said Saturday night after hitting a three-run homer that proved to be the game-winning hit in Minnesota’s 4-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Then he was told “The Ignitor” was the nickname for Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, the former Twins player and current coach.
“That’s pretty cool. . I’ll take it,” Dozier said with a laugh.
So will the Twins.
Dozier’s homer in the fifth inning put Minnesota ahead for good, Samuel Deduno tossed six sharp innings for his first win as the Twins moved a game over .500 — a rarity in these parts over the past three years.
With Minnesota trailing 2-1, Dozier followed consecutive singles by Aaron Hicks and Eduardo Escobar by sending a curveball from Roenis Elias (3-3) into the seats in left field. It was Dozier’s 11th homer of the season.
“He’s our igniter,” Gardenhire said. “If we can get the bottom of the order to get on base, and roll it over, he’s going to come up with more and more RBI opportunities and that’s kind of what we’re looking for, and tonight he delivered.”
Dozier had a solo homer on Friday night; Saturday night marked the fifth time in his career he homered in consecutive games. His 20 home runs at Target Field ties him for fourth all-time with former Twins slugger Justin Morneau. He leads the A.L. with 40 runs scored.
“My job is to get on base, whether it’s my hits or anything, on base is my biggest stat,” said Dozier, who extended his current hitting streak to a season-high eight games.
Michael Saunders had a homer and two RBIs for Seattle.
Deduno (1-2) struck out four, allowed two hits and retired 18 of the 23 batters he faced. Both of Seattle’s runs off Deduno came in the third inning after James Jones’ triple scored Brad Miller. Jones scored on Saunders’ sacrifice fly to give the Mariners a one-run lead.
But Deduno was otherwise solid, working efficiently through Seattle’s lineup over the next three innings while Elias struggled with his control. Elias allowed six hits and one walk in seven innings, but he also hit a batter, and had a wild pitch and a balk in the second inning.
Elias’ teammates and manager sounded pleased with his performance, even saying his curveball that Dozier homered on was a good pitch.
“I went back right after that inning to check where it was and I thought it was a really good pitch,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “(Dozier) just dropped the head on it and was able to elevate it.”
Seattle pulled to 4-3 in the eighth when Saunders hit a solo homer off Jared Burton. Corey Hart doubled two batters later, but Burton got Kyle Seager swinging to end the threat. Glen Perkins worked the ninth for his 12th save in 14 chances.
The Mariners have lost four straight.
“We’ll figure it out. It’s a little tough right now,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “One thing I pointed out right from the start, winning games at this level is tough. One thing here and one thing there will cause you to lose. We’ll figure this offense out and we’ll be OK.”
NOTES: The Twins haven’t been above .500 since April 27. … McClendon decided to skip RHP Brandon Maurer’s turn in the rotation for Seattle’s upcoming two-game series at Texas. Maurer (1-2) has a 6.00 ERA. . LHP James Paxton (strained back) threw a two-inning simulated game Saturday, and Tijuan Walker (shoulder) threw a bullpen session. Both players may throw more simulated games in Texas. … Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach missed the game to attend his son’s college graduation in Duluth. … Jones has recorded a hit in all nine of his starts. He drove in his first career run. … Minnesota goes for the series sweep on Sunday when RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-3) faces Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez (4-1) who is 6-5 in 15 career starts versus the Twins.
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